Leaves fall turning turning to the ground,
by the front eaves racing, following the wind;
morning voices seem to speak to me
as they whirl and toss in headlong flight.
An empty hall in the yellow dusk of evening:
I sit here silent, unspeaking.
The young boy comes in from outdoors,
trims the lamp, sets it before me,
asks me questions I do not answer,
brings me a supper I do not eat.
He goes and sits down by the west wall,
reading me poetry–three or four poems;
the poet is not a man of today–
already a thousand years divide us–
but something in his words strikes my heart,
fills it again with an acid grief.
I turn and call to the boy;
Put down the book and go to bed now–
a man has times when he must think,
and work to do that never ends.
translated by Burton Watson